Scholar says both US journalists in N Korea guesthouse

North Korea has delayed sending two convicted US journalists to a prison labour camp in a possible attempt...

Written by Associated Press | Seoul | Published: July 11, 2009 3:37 am

North Korea has delayed sending two convicted US journalists to a prison labour camp in a possible attempt to seek talks with Washington on their release,a scholar who visited the North said in an interview published on Friday.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee,who work for former US Vice-President Al Gore’s California-based Current TV media group,are being kept at guest house in the North Korean capital and have not yet been sent to a prison camp as called for in their sentences,University of Georgia political scientist Han Park said.

“I heard from North Korean officials that the American journalists were doing fine at a guest house in Pyongyang,” Park told South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper. Park,originally from South Korea,arrived on Thursday in Seoul following a trip to Pyongyang. Ling and Lee were detained near the North Korean border with China and were sentenced last month to 12 years of hard labour for entering the country illegally and for “hostile acts”.

Park said North officials were angry at the journalists for trying to produce a programme critical of North Korea.

A South Korean who helped organise the journalists’ reporting trip to China,the Rev Chun Ki-won,said in April that the women traveled to the border region with North Korea to interview women and children who had fled the impoverished country.

“North’s move not to carry out the sentence suggests that it could release them through a dialogue with the US and they could be set free at an early date,depending on the US gesture,” Park said.

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